Using 想 (xiǎng) To Express Desire

In Chinese language, 想 (xiǎng) basically means “to think”, “to reckon” or “to miss”, but it also acts as an auxiliary verb expressing modality.

In this case 想 is translated as “want to…” or “would like to…”.
The grammar pattern is as follows:
Subject + 想(xiǎng) + Verb (Object) 
The verb provides the main content of the clause, while 想 expresses the desire to do something.


我想去上海。- Wǒ xiǎng qù shànghǎi. – I want to go to Shanghai.
他们想吃饭。- Tāmen xiǎng chīfàn. – They would like to eat.
他想喝绿茶。- Tā xiǎng hē lǜchá. – He would like to drink green tea.

Questions with 想

A common way to form questions with 想 is so-called affirmative-negative question” ( Verb + 不 + Verb): 
你们想不想去?- Nǐmen xiǎng bùxiǎng qù? – Would you like to go?
想不想喝酒?- Xiǎng bùxiǎng hējiǔ? – Would you like to drink wine?
你想不想吃饭? – Nǐ xiǎng bù xiǎng chīfàn? – Would you like to eat?

Yes-no questions with “ma” are also commonly used:
你想吃饭吗?- Nǐ xiǎng chīfàn ma? – Would you like to eat?
你想看这本书吗?- Nǐ xiǎng kàn zhè běn shū ma? – Would you like to read this book?
你们想去旅行吗?- Nǐmen xiǎng qù lǚxíng ma? – Would you like to travel?

Negative sentences with 想

For negating the following pattern is used:
Subject + 不 (bù) + 想(xiǎng) + Verb (Object) 
It is translated as “would not like to…”
我不想上班。- Wǒ bùxiǎng shàngbān. – I wouldn’t like to work.
我不想做作业。 – Wǒ bùxiǎng zuò zuo yè. – I don’t want to do homework.
她不想去散步。 – Wǒ bùxiǎng zuò zuo yè. – She does not want to go for a walk.